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India: Mask mandate in Maharashtra returns as COVID cases continue to rise
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The Maharashtra government on Saturday made the use of face masks mandatory in the state as the Covid-19 spike continues. According to a public order, masks have been made compulsory in closed public spaces such as trains, buses, cinemas, auditorium, offices, hospitals, colleges, and schools.

“There has been some increase in positive cases in limited cluster areas like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Palghar districts, leading to the hike in India's active cases. Thus, we appeal to the public to wear masks in areas of surge," Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said.

The Maharashtra health department on Friday asked district and civic authorities to ramp up coronavirus testing as the numbers of samples being examined had fallen while cases were rising.

In a letter to collectors, municipal corporations and chief executive officers, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas said all districts should ensure the proportion of RT-PCR tests was at least 60 per cent.

In view of rising cases, it said people should be advised to wear masks in closed public spaces like trains, buses, cinemas, auditoriums, offices, hospitals, colleges and schools.

The state has seen a sharp spike in cases over the last week, with June 1 reporting 1,081 cases, the highest since February 24. "Testing in the state has considerably reduced despite repeated instructions.

As per the June 1 data, there has been gross shortfall in the number of weekly tests conducted in 26 districts which is a major cause of concern. Overall testing in all districts should be increased immediately," the letter said.

The ACS (Health) said the state had last week reported BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, and while there were no complications associated with these cases, one must not get complacent.

Vyas also asked officials to carry out periodic analysis of new cases with respect to time, place and person so that a localised action plan can be carved out.

The letter also stated that an appropriate number of samples need to be referred for genomic sequencing to identified INSACOG laboratory.

Vyas stressed on the need to keep track of the overall clinical spectrum of cases and analyse the proportion of breakthrough infections and reinfection cases periodically.



https://www.livemint.com/news/india/mask...13324.html
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